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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
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(PPC) 2024 General Election

Home Office official apprehended for 'attempting to sell UK residency to asylum seeker'

Home Office official apprehended for ‘attempting to sell UK residency to asylum seeker’

Case worker allegedly contacted vulnerable man living in Northern Ireland and requested £2,000 to approve refugee application

A Home Office case worker has been arrested on suspicion of trying to sell UK residency to an asylum seeker living in Northern Ireland. The official, who has been suspended by the Home Office, allegedly contacted a vulnerable man and asked for £2,000 in return for approving his refugee application.

The BBC, which uncovered the alleged cash-for-residency scandal, said that sensitive Home Office records were utilised as part of the attempted scam. Police have been called in to investigate by the Home Office, which said that it expected “the highest standards” from its staff.

Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, said that the allegations were “deeply concerning” and the Government had “lost control” of the asylum system.

‘He offered me a positive decision’

The intended victim, using the pseudonym Renas to protect his identity, said that he was contacted by a worker employed as an asylum “decision maker” in the north of England. Renas said he received a call in early March in which it was claimed that “95 per cent of people like you” have their applications refused. The “decision maker” then allegedly suggested a direct payment would guarantee success.

“He said I could be sure he would refuse my application,” Renas said. “But if I could help him, he could help me and he asked for some money. He asked for £2,000.

“He basically offered me a positive decision.”

Renas, a former journalist, said at first he thought it was “a total scam”, but it became clear to him the man on the phone did work for the Home Office.

“He had all my information. He gave me very specific details from my application.”

‘Targeted the most vulnerable people’

Renas recorded a subsequent video call he received from the “decision maker”, which he passed to police. The footage appears to show an individual using a laptop that has official Home Office software containing case files.

“He targeted the most vulnerable people in society,” Renas said.

“There will be other asylum seekers who are going through the same process, or maybe there are some people who have already been scammed like this. I feel this is my responsibility to inform them.

“I was persecuted in my home country by the authorities. I was already afraid of the Home Office and other institutions here.”

Renas raised concerns with his solicitor, who alerted the authorities. In a statement, Lancashire police said: “We can confirm we have arrested a man on suspicion of misconduct in public office, suspicion of money laundering, bribery, and computer misuse offences.

“Officers from Lancashire Constabulary alongside partners from the Home Office arrested the man, in his 30s, in the Ramsgreave area of Blackburn. An investigation remains in its early stages and enquiries are ongoing.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We expect the highest standards from our staff to ensure asylum claims are properly considered, decisions are sound and that protection is granted to those who genuinely need it.

“The member of staff was arrested and suspended. It would be inappropriate to comment further as the matter is subject to a live police investigation.”

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